Let’s get up to speed

This is a good place to start, especially if you haven’t done any research at all yet.

While the Dremel rotary tools are meant to be very accessible to non-experts, there are still a few definitions and clarifications that can be useful right from the get-go. I’ll keep updating and fleshing out this page over time, so keep checking back. And of course, let me know if there is something else that you think should be here – if it wasn’t perfectly clear to you, chances are other people struggled with it too.

  1. Rotary tool – Probably something that ought to be addressed right at the start. Dremel now makes a number of different tools or, rather, tool systems, such as Trio or Multi-Max, so the designation “Rotary Tool” is technically necessary. However, when most people hear or use the name “Dremel”, they still think of the classical and original tools that made the company popular in the first place (this is pure speculation on my part, by the way – don’t expect a reference to a scientific survey 🙂 ). So, a Dremel rotary tool is essentially a very versatile drill, though I suspect that the company really doesn’t like it to be thought of this way.
  2. Corded vs. Cordless – pretty self-explanatory. There are those Dremel rotary tools that need to be plugged in in order to function and those that use a rechargeable battery. If you are trying to decide between the two, you can read my blog post on the subject here.
  3. Accessory – In my humble opinion, not the best name for the part that does the actual work, i.e. the “business end” of the tool. Accessories fall into a number of categories, labeled by Dremel as “Cutting”, “Routing”, “Grinding & Sharpening”, etc. and include things like sanding wheels and discs, engraving and drill bits, cutting discs known as cut-off wheels, and a myriad of others. (By the way, it is the fact that Dremel puts drilling bits into the “Miscellaneous” category that makes me think that they really don’t want their rotary tools to be thought of as glorified drills. 🙂 )
  4. Attachment – This one is a little difficult to define, but basically it’s anything that can be attached to your Dremel tool in some way and that does not directly cut, grind, polish etc. (that would be the accessories) but rather helps you to do so. Attachments include everything from the relatively simple additional grip that helps you hold the tool, to the pretty involved (I don’t want to say “complicated”) shaper/router table or the workstation that lets you turn your rotary tool into a drill press.

Last but not least: read this post on safety, then remember to pick up a pair of safety goggles at first opportunity.


  1. Pingback: My Dremel 4000 review – Part II « The Dremel Amateur
  2. Angie H.

    Hi. Not sure if i am asking this question in the right place of your blog. I have recently purchased a dremel 4000 tool. I would like to renovate old wooden box coffee grinders for sale through my website. I need to clean up and polish the metal top part of the grinder which is a nickel/chrome base. Slightly rusted but in good condition – what attachment would i use in the dremel tool to sand off gently the rust and to then polish? All advice much appreciated. Angie

    • Nikita

      Hi Angie,

      To get rid of the rust, you can start with a polishing brush. There are brushes made out of nylon, brass and steel, with hardness increasing in that order. It’s always best to start as gently as possible, so try a nylon brush first (accessory numbers 403-405). Harder brushes may strip the chrome plating, so I hesitate to recommend them, but it may be necessary to use a brass brush to remove stubborn rust. Use with caution!
      After brushes, the rubber polishing tips (461-3) are probably your best bet. They have embedded abrasives that can smoothen rough surfaces and remove residual rust. I have not been able to get a smooth polished surface with the emery disk (425), but it might be worth trying for you. Final polishing can be done with polishing wheels (e.g. 414, 422), but I personally really like Sunshine Polishing Cloths, which you can easily find online.

      As always, first try all accessories on some scrap materials that resemble the coffee grinders as closely as possible.

      Best of luck and please share your results!


      • Angie H.

        Hi Nik. Thanks so much for your advice. I shall try exactly what you have suggested and will certainly share the results!! Here’s hoping i don’t end up with a million bits and little pieces of my coffee grinder top!! thanks again. Angie

  3. Justin J.

    Hello, Im starting to use a dremel and flex shaft for silver applications. i was curious the average speeds that would be required in rpms for using sanding wheels, drill bits for holes, and burrs for setting stones. Any information would be greatly appreciated!

    • Nikita

      Hi Justin,
      Unfortunately, I have no experience with this particular application of the tool. The only thing I can recommend is that you definitely respect Dremel’s speed recommendations. You can find these by going to Dremel.com, navigating to the particular accessory page, clicking the ‘Specifications’ tab, and following the ‘View Speed Settings’ link at the bottom. As always, take things slow and practice on a scrap piece or hidden surface first. Best of luck!

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